PETE: What inspired you to compile this book?
BRIAN CAUFIELD: The short answer is that there was nothing like it on the market and Pauline Books & Media decided to remedy that situation and publish a book for Catholic men and fathers, Man to Man, Dad to Dad: Catholic Faith and Family. We brought together 14 experts writing on different topics that concern every aspect of a father’s life, including an insightful Preface by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York. So in one handy volume, you can get informed and in-depth advice on everything from disciplining kids, to building a better marriage, to having great marital relations, to avoiding porn and divorce (which are linked) and bringing prayer and the sacraments more intimately into your family life.
I drew on my own experience as a father of two grade-school boys, and editing the website Fathers for Good (fathersforgood.org) for the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council (where I work full-time).
PETE: In today’s society what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing husbands and fathers?
BRIAN CAUFIELD: Good question – that’s exactly what the book sets out to answer. If you look at polls of men in America, the struggle to balance home life and work life always comes out near the top. For the man who wants to be engaged at home with his wife and children, there is a constant tension with his job and his obligation as a provider. So we cover that issue in a book chapter.
There is also, generally speaking, a loss of identity among men and fathers as to how exactly they are expected to act in our society and culture. There are very few positive images of fathers in the popular media and a whole lot of movies and TV shows that have a bumbling dad being led by his superior wife and conniving kids. We also have the explosion of internet pornography that even decent men can fall prey to and which is undermining men’s virtue, moral strength and marriages.
In sum, I think the biggest problem for men today is that there is a relative silence about the problems we face in terms of the culture, employment, family life and spiritual life, and if we complain, we risk being called whiners. We hear very little in the media about men’s issues, as compared to those of women, and even in our parishes very little outreach and few programs are geared specifically to speak to the hearts of men. The result is that many men tune out and disconnect. But this book, as the title “Man to Man, Dad to Dad” suggests, is designed to break the silence, raise the issues, offer guidance and encouragement for men in a way that is positive, that understands a man’s desire to be strong, masculine, loving and heroic to his family, and humble before God. The manhood of Christ and the fatherhood of St. Joseph are presented as models in the book.
PETE: Authors Mike Aquilina, Patrick Madrid and Bill Donaghy are a few of the contributors that readers of this book will be familiar with. How did you go about the task of gathering your impressive list of contributors?
BRIAN CAUFIELD: My work with Fathers for Good has introduced me to many outstanding thinkers, writers and experts on the issues of Catholic manhood. These men were all very enthusiastic about this book project, and I think the fact that we were working with a highly respected Catholic publisher also gave them confidence that the result would be a quality product.
PETE: You did a wonderful job covering many topics of use to men today. Did that just happen or was it by design?
BRIAN CAUFIELD: Again, my research and work with Fathers for Good made me very aware of the issues facing men. I don’t just look at religious sources. I also study secular sources and see what men are writing about there, and then turning those topics into a Catholic perspective. It helps that I have a Master’s degree in theology from St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in New York.
PETE: Will we be seeing more from you on the topic of men’s Spirituality in future book releases?
BRIAN CAUFIELD: I don’t have any contracts right now for future projects, but I do have ideas that I hope will find a publisher.
PETE: Not so much a question but could you provide my readers with a brief synopsis of your website FathersForGood.org
BRIAN CAUFIELD: Fathers for Good was inspired by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, head of the 1.8-million member Knights of Columbus, who perceived the need for online resources and encouragement for Catholic men. Launched in 2008, the site provides information, inspiration, expert advice, videos on pressing problems, interactive question and advice columns, movie reviews, and entertaining topics that will appeal to the heart, soul and mind of a man who is looking to become the father God calls him to be.
PETE: This has become my signature closing question. This is a blog about books so…..What is currently on your bookshelf to read?
BRIAN CAUFIELD: I try to keep a mix of commentary, research, history and spirituality. I always keep some book of Chesterton near at hand, and I just started reading Joseph Pearce’s “Shakespeare on Love,” about the Catholic themes in “Romeo and Juliet.” I just finished reading “Emerging Adulthood,” a book based on surveys of the millennial generation and how they delay entry into adulthood by keeping their options open in terms of marriage, career and having children. When I was rushing to the Little League field this week to watch my sons, I picked off my shelf a book of sayings from St. Therese of Lisieux, so I could read between innings.
Brian Caulfield is editor of the website Fathers for Good, an initiative by the Knights of Columbus that features regular articles, videos and other multimedia on the subject of Christian fatherhood. You can visit his website at www.fathersforgood.org.